I received a free copy of Five Enchanted Roses from Rooglewood Press in exchange for my honest review. Five Enchanted Roses is a collection of five Beauty and the Beast retellings by five talented authors.
~ Espirit de la Rose ~
While Cecilia travels on board her father’s England bound ship, a terrible, unnatural storm overtakes them. She discovers that her father has stolen something from a terrible race called the Fee, and one of them must pay the price. When she is swept into a strange, terrifying world, Cecilia finds herself aboard the Rose which is captained by the mysterious yet flamboyant Pepin Daviau (he’s French). Will she manage to escape the Rose and the wrath of the Fee? Is this captain friend or foe?
I have to say that Espirit de la Rose was incredible! Inventive and unique, the world that Ms. Browning paints is rich with description, and her characters are thoroughly enjoyable. The story is well developed and paced nicely, and the characters are likable and experience natural growth. Ms. Browning maintains the charm of the original tale while giving it a whole new light. It was quite entertaining, and I had to clap my hand over my mouth several times to not burst out laughing or growling (respectively) while I read on the train. The ending was satisfying, but I definitely want to read more from Ms. Browning.
I look forward to rereading this retelling again and again! This is one of those stories that I wish I could read again for the first time because it was well-written, clever, and imaginative, and I couldn’t put it down. I give Espirit de la Rose four out of five chortling stars and a PG-13 rating.
~ Wither ~
When her father returns from a trip with a rose and a terrible tale, Lilybet is determined to go to Briarstone Abbey and face the beast in her sister’s stead. The Neverway is terribly dangerous though, especially at night, and what can a girl by herself do against ghouls, creepers, and other such nasties? But, Lilybet isn’t about to let details like mortal danger, probable death, and likely maiming stop her from charging out into the darkness of the Neverway. Will she make it to Briarstone Abbey alive? How will the beast react to the wrong daughter?
Honestly, Wither is my least favorite retelling in this collection. That’s not to say that it wasn’t good, I just had a hard time connecting with Lilybet or the beast. Both were noble after a fashion, but I found I couldn’t really like either of them. However, the world of Wither is fascinating and intriguing, and themes of God’s faithfulness were woven in deftly into the story. The ending seemed a little anti-climatic, but it was fulfilling and gave enough closure while leaving a few loose ends to tantalize the reader.
Though Wither was good, I struggled to really get into the story, but I think it was my problem and not the story’s. Perhaps in a few years, I’ll give it another go, but until then, I’m honestly not itching to reread it. I give Wither three out of five thorny stars and a PG-13 rating.
~ Stone Curse ~
Karyna was there when the curse was cast on Prince Berand. She was there when the nobles turned to stone and the prince became the beast. She watched the castle be abandoned by servants until she and a precious few were all that remained to serve the beast. She tended and cleaned and repaired as hope left and the world turned its back on the beast and the castle that had become his prison. But then Karyna begins to have visions which she believes are the key to breaking the curse, and she must decide if she will abandon the beast to search for answers or ignore the startling visions. Are the visions even connected with the curse? What will happen to the beast if she leaves him?
Okay, I’ve read some of Ms. Schmidt’s previous works, and I left them unfinished. However, while Stone Curse was not drop dead fantastic, it was the best I’ve read from Ms. Schmidt yet. I have to say that though the characters are interesting, they don’t grow much. They just seem to do what they always would have done, but it seemed to fit somehow and didn’t get in the way of the story. The pacing was good, and I really liked how it started at the castle. I enjoyed the dynamic between Karyna and the beast, and I found myself eagerly waiting for the next step of the way. Also, I think I saw some nods to sleeping beauty that I appreciated.
It was an entertaining read, and I enjoyed the twist that Ms. Schmidt put on the original tale. While the reader is “told” things a few too many times, I still liked it! I give Stone Curse four out of five thorny stars and a PG rating.
~ Rosara and the Jungle King ~
Rosara belongs to a jungle tribe that isn’t the most civil around. Her father is the chief, but he’s too logical and open to reason to be the chief of this barbaric tribe for much longer, especially if Rosara is taken as the third wife of a challenger. Rosara’s smart enough to flee from this challenger, and she escapes into the camouflage of a tree only to be greeted by a jaguar. Literally, greeted. And this jaguar, well, he seems like he could be a nice dude, calling her “little bird” and such… but don’t cats eat birds? And just how far is the challenger willing to go to make himself chief? Is this jaguar all that he seems?
This is, hands down, my favorite in this collection. Swoon-worthy romance, heart-stopping peril, tear-jerking relationships, this has tale has it all. I could not put this down! It’s one of those stories where if someone interrupts me, I might get violent. I’m sorry. That’s just how good this is. The pacing was pretty good, but it’s always hard to get pacing right in a novella. I’m usually not a fan of first person present tense, but Ms. Tsukioka pulled it off flawlessly. I loved the characters and the setting.
I cannot wait to read Rosara and the Jungle King again, and I eagerly await whatever Ms. Tsukioka writes next. The uniqueness of this story pulled me in right away, and Ms. Tsukioka delivered the tale beautifully. Therefore, I give Rosara and the Jungle King four and a half out of five wonderstruck stars and a PG-13 rating.
~ The Wulver’s Rose ~
Bonnie was a nice girl with a nice family with nice things in a nice house. But she forgot to blow out her candle one night, and their finery turned to ashes around them and left her brother scarred for life. She blamed herself as they travelled to the harsh north to live in a hut and scrape together a meager survival. Their first night in the north, Bonnie was assaulted with a strange dream, and the same vision haunts her for years as she does all she can to repay her family for the pain she caused them. But what do the dreams mean? Can she ever forgive herself for her carelessness?
This was a satisfying close to the collection, and I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Wand’s style. It was very true to the original tale, but it had an added element of mystery and urgency. The characters are very easy to sympathize with, and I really liked the theme that the inside matters most. Sure, Beauty and the Beast tales are all supposed to have this theme woven in them, but it came out truest and strongest in The Wulver’s Rose. Admittedly, I felt like I was being beat over the head with Bonnie’s guilt a few times, but that was mainly near the beginning.
The Wulver’s Rose was the perfect choice for the end of Five Enchanted Roses. It carries the themes and tone of the original well yet still adds new things to this well known and loved story. I give The Wulver’s Rose four out of five satisfied stars and a PG-13 rating.
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